I don’t read my Facebook newsfeed, much to the surprise of many, given that I post many recipes and my children’s humorous moments. Because my intelligent friends often just press the ‘share’ button and I am deluged with news that are often biased, distorted or downright fabrication. I don’t know what is ‘truth’ and what isn’t anymore these days, especially during the US election: 50% of my friends posted attacks on Clinton whilst the other 50% posted similar nasties on Trump.
As my daughter once wrote for a Theory of Knowledge essay (after extensive research), you can always find an equal amount of for and against ‘evidence’. For every argument supporting vaccination, global warming, Trump, or Clinton, you can find an equally damaging one. It all depends on where you look and who you believe. In this world of the internet, you can always find ‘evidence’ to support your view, whichever side of the argument you are vested in.
Writing a chemistry textbook, I came across in my research that the progress of chemistry was hampered for many decades because scientists at that time clung on obsessively to the phlogiston theory, namely that every combustible compound contains a mysterious substance called phlogiston. Even when they recorded a reduced weight for some compounds when burned, rather than examine the theory with equanimity, they explained away the facts with explanations such as some compounds possessing a negative weight, or that phlogiston is an ethereal corporeal fire.
We cling on to our beliefs for our own sense of security and stability.
New Scientist recently published an interesting study on this topic with reference to the US election, vaccines and climate change:
You can read an excerpt of the article here, or if you are a full subscriber, you can access the full article.
Wall Street Journal recently ran an article highlighting the results of the study by Stanford University: Most students don’t know when the news is fake. You can read the article here.
My daughter recently had to do an Extended Essay for her International Baccalaureate Diploma course, and discussing her core beliefs and how the media has (or has not) affected her outlook, her father and I arrived at the same conclusion:
How you raise your children and their own childhood experiences is how they see the world. Their world views are already largely shaped when they read newspapers as an adult. Thus, give them a sense of security and stability (rather than ingratiate a siege mentality in their minds), be kind to them so that they see the others kindly and teach them to see beauty in the world. The world is a beautiful and hopeful place, if you believe it to be. Please raise the next generation to believe this.